Asylum seekers being housed in a former British military camp in Wales have held a protest over conditions at the site.
The camp, in Penally, Pembrokeshire, has housed around 240 migrants since September. Residents have compared the conditions to a ‘prison’, stating that there are as many as eight people to a room, preventing them from having privacy or being able to social distance.
They also stated that they had to wait outside for meals or walk long distances in the rain to use to the toilet and shower facilities, while a lack of health care access has been exacerbated by the second lockdown, the Western Telegraph reports.
During the protest, a dozen of the refugees stood outside the base holding signs that read: ‘Where are the human rights’ and ‘we want justice’.
Others had banners with the words, ‘we escaped from war to prison’, ‘save us from Covid-19’, ‘the refugee has a right to stay in a home’ and ‘we want better conditions’.
The demonstration was supported by anti-racism activists and later gained the attention of far-right groups. They have been accused of trying to exploit the protest to ‘further their agenda against refugees’.
The asylum seekers – all aged 18-35 – arrived at Penally in September and are due to stay there for up to a year while their asylum claims are processed. They are mainly from Iraq and Iran.
Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford previously called for them to be removed from Penally, as he argued it was an unsuitable location. He said: ‘It is unacceptable that the Home Office has repeatedly failed to address serious issues regarding living conditions at Penally military camp.
‘The Welsh Government and local service providers have continually informed the Home Office of grave deficiencies in the standard of accommodation for asylum seekers. Home Office has so far failed to act in any meaningful way.
‘The welfare and safety of asylum seekers on site must not be compromised, and the wellbeing of the local community must be treated as priority by the Home Office.’
A Home Office spokesperson previously said: ‘During these unprecedented times, the government is working with a range of partners and across departments to secure further accommodation and the MoD has offered use of some of its sites.
‘When using contingency accommodation we work closely with organisations, including local authorities and law enforcement, throughout the process to ensure value for money and that vulnerable asylum seekers, who would otherwise be destitute, have suitable accommodation while their claims are processed.’
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